For over 20 years, operated a hearing healthcare practice, elected president our states hearing association, coached hundreds of people.
Hearing Health Is Very Important
Hearing loss should never be overlooked as it does have an effect not only with the person with hearing loss, but on anyone around the person with hearing loss.
Hearing loss can happen at any age: Children, mom & dad, grandma & grandpa, brothers & sisters, men, women, any occupation and any nationally.
Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 has difficulty hearing.
Some people may not want to admit they have trouble hearing.
Many people ignore hearing loss or are too embarrassed to admit to their condition. This is wrong as hearing loss can and does have additional health issues. Hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse.
Take action quickly if you or anyone you know shows signs of having difficulty with their hearing.
How Does Our Ears Work?
The anatomy of our hearing or auditory system is extremely complex but can be broadly divided into two parts, one being called ‘peripheral’ and the other ‘central’.
The peripheral hearing system consists of three parts which are the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear:
- The outer ear consists of the pinna (also called the auricle), ear canal and eardrum.
- The middle ear is a small, air-filled space containing three tiny bones called the malleus, incus and stapes but collectively called the ossicles. The malleus connects to the eardrum linking it to the outer ear and the stapes (smallest bone in the body) connects to the inner ear.
- The inner ear has both hearing and balance organs. The hearing part of the inner ear and is called the cochlea which comes from the Greek word for ‘snail’ because of its distinctive coiled shape. The cochlea, which contains many thousands of sensory cells (called ‘hair cells’), is connected to the central hearing system by the hearing or auditory nerve. The cochlea is filled with special fluids which are important to the process of hearing.
The central hearing system consists of the auditory nerve and an incredibly complex pathway through the brain stem and onward to the auditory cortex of the brain.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is when your ability to hear is reduced. A hearing loss makes it more difficult for you to hear speech and other sounds. Hearing loss is quite common. The most common causes of hearing loss are noise and age.
Causes Of Hearing Loss
A hearing loss can be caused by many factors, but age and noise are the two most common causes.
Loss of hearing is a natural consequence of getting older. Our hearing ability worsens in our 40s and onwards and when we reach our 80s, more than half of us suffer from significant hearing loss.
Another common reason of hearing loss is exposure to noise. It can also be a consequence of living in a noisy world. This noise can come from our work or from voluntary exposure to noise, such as noisy motors or loud music at rock concerts, night clubs, discos and from stereos - with or without the use of headphones.
What Is A Hearing Aid?
A hearing aid is an electronic device used for detecting sound waves such as voice, music and other sounds. The hearing aid then amplifies the sound in such a way that the wearer can easily understand voice and music while reducing the background noise.
Hearing aids can all be described as small, wearable electronic devices which enable a person to hear sounds better and understand speech more clearly, providing an overall improvement in communication ability.
Types Of Hearing Aids
Today's hearing aids come in various types and styles. Each style has a unique design to fit the life style of the wearer.
The right style will partly depend on the hearing loss, but there are other things to think about. For example, some people like to let others know about their hearing loss – or make a fashion statement – with a clearly visible aid. Others prefer a more discreet fitting that few will notice.
- A Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC) is the smallest hearing aid and goes deeper into the ear canal, making it nearly or wholly invisible. This is the most discreet kind of hearing aid.
- The In-The-Canal (ITC) is a little larger than the CIC. The ITC sits in the canal or just outside the ear.
- The In-The-Ear is a little larger than the ITC. The ITE sit in the ear and is visible to others.
- A Behind -The-Ear (BTE) aid has two parts: the main part goes behind the ear. This is connected by a thin, clear tube to a custom fitted ear mold that sits inside the ear canal.
- A Receiver-In-The-Canal (RIC) aid is similar to a BTE aid but smaller. An almost invisible wire connects the hearing aid to a receiver (tiny loudspeaker) fitted sitting in the ear canal.
Which Hearing Aid Style Is Best?
There is no Hearing Aid Style that is considered the BEST.
The hearing aid style is based upon the hearing aid wearer. A hearing test will help determine the style based upon the degree of hearing loss. Additionally, the style recommended will be based upon the life style of the wearer.
Also, the dexterity of the wearer needs to be determined. The CIC is small. The battery is small. If the dexterity is poor, this style should not be recommended due to the size.
The most popular is the RIC. The RIC is comfortable, small enough as to not be seen and easily maintained by both the wearer and the hearing professional.
Success with hearing aids will be helped by wearing them regularly and taking good care of them. In addition, an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist can tell you about new hearing aids and devices that become available and help you make changes to meet your needs. The goal is that in time, many find hearing aids are comfortable and enhances the ability to hear and communicate with little difficulty.